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04 March 2021
by Eero Pärgmäe
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Making Aviation More Sustainable – Tallinn Airport

Riivo Tuvike, CEO of Tallinn Airport, provides an insight into the airport’s efforts to become more environmentally responsible and how it is working to protect local nature and wildlife.

AS Tallinn Lennujaam – carbon neutral by year 2030

Sustainable and responsible attitude to our environment is a value appreciated by all the employees of Tallinn Airport and has been in our focus for years. Aviation, like any other means of transport, inevitably impacts the environmental situation and safety. Therefore, we have to make efforts to reduce the negative impact of our company and the load on the environment to be as sustainable as we can in our operations.

Year 2020 taught us all a lot, both in personal life and at the company level. It definitely made us think more than ever of sustainability, expenses and incomes, as well as made us realize how fragile the world can be and how quickly things can change. In the midst of all the negativity, from time to time we heard news from the wide world telling us how the air quality had considerably improved thanks to people staying at home, and visibility in certain parts of the world turned from foggy twilight to bright day. These physical manifestations  made people more aware of their impact on the environment and helped us as world community to take bigger steps in the direction of environmental protection.

Environmental process management is important

In order to achieve the desired results it is important for us to know where we are today and how we plan to achieve our goal with awareness and consideration.

In 2019, the environmental management system manual of AS Tallinna Lennujaam was issued, which applies to all the airports it oversees. The manual is used to instruct the employees in order to ensure the effectiveness and constant improvement of environmental performance. We also use the manual externally in order to introduce the guiding principles and requirements of the environmental management system to our partners and stakeholders. In addition to our partners and other companies related to aviation and the Airport, we also have an important role in increasing the awareness of passengers and shape their behavioral habits.

Preservation of the environment begins with knowledge

You only need to take a few steps in the right direction to bring about change. We are focused on raising the environmental awareness of our employees and partners for several years. Every year in May we organize  the Environment Month, last year’s event was called “Take care of what you love”. The goal of the Environment Month is to focus on and contribute to sustainable development and environmental protection. Throughout the month we share tips and materials on how simple and how much fun it can be to help protect the environment.

In order for our  goals and targets to be more visible to all the employees and our partners, we created an illustrated poster with the environmental goals for the next few years. The poster includes our Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the major environmental goals of the company. Thus, all the employees can get a quick and easy idea of where and how the company is moving.

Our building and development work is based on the principles of environmental protection

Our development and expansion works are also based on the principles of environmental conservation, and the works include those with an aim to protect the environment. During the current expansion of our eastern aera we will, for instance, increase our capacity to collect de-icing chemicals, directing those to a wastewater tank, thus reducing the amounts ending up in the stormwater sewerage and nature. We will also build additional oil traps that enable us to prevent the transfer of fuel and oil contamination into the environment. We will also build a water pumping station to the eastern end of the runway in order to keep the water level of the area under control, achieving constant work of onsite treatment plants and preventing flooding caused by external factors.

For an airport, noise pollution is inevitable. In order to reduce it to some extent and to prevent the spread of the noise, we have built an engine testing area that will be completed with noise barriers by the end of 2021. After the noise barriers have been completed, a noise mapping will take place in the area at our initiative in order to determine the effectiveness of the new measures.

The fleet of the Airport is renewed step by step

As is the case with any major change, the renewal of our airports ground support  equipment  also requires an analysis and looking for the best offer. Our company is constantly and consciously moving towards resource-efficient equipment, thereby increasing the service capacity and excellence of the company. Our goal is to make our fleet more environmentally friendly and reduce the CO₂ footprint of our equipment by year 2025.

The bus fleet of Tallinn Airport includes two gas-powered buses and the regional airports have two electric luggage trucks. Feedback on the first steps has been positive and also several passengers have noticed the markings on the bus stating  that this is an environmentally friendly vehicle, as well as the fact that it is a gas-powered bus.

First kWs of our own energy

In 2020 we started building solar parks in all the airports with a purpose of reducing the amount of carbon we generate and moving towards the use of renewable energy. In December 2020, seven 50 kW power plant were commissioned all over Estonia: two in Tallinn, two in Pärnu and one solar park in Tartu, Kärdla and Kuressaare, which produce nearly 2% of the own annual consumption of our group.

This year we plan to build two 500 kW plants in Tallinn and in 2022 the plan is to build at least two more 1 MW plants. Once we have completed the projects that have already been launched, we will have a capacity to produce 20 to 30% of the required energy on site and from renewable sources of solar energy. We will also continuously  keep looking for new innovative ways to reduce our energy consumption.

The goal of AS Tallinna Lennujaam is to ensure sustainable and responsible operations of the airports owned by the group and provision of high-quality service, while saving the natural environment and reducing emissions. The goal of AS Tallinna Lennujaam is to be a carbon-neutral airport by 2030 and a climate neutral airport by 2050.

The article was originally prepared for International Airport Review’s exclusive sustainability series. Read more HERE.

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